When the Scribe asked “Which is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied…”
Today’s Gospel reading1 for the Catholic Church is all about how God loves us and we are to love Him. First Jesus responds to the Scribe’s question:
“The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Then the scribe responds, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” He gets it! He understands the Teacher. Because of this Jesus responds:
“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
There is a lot going on in this passage. But I have heard it in sermons and homilies countless times. I settled back in the pew for another rendition of loving your neighbor and wondering how I was supposed to do that!
Well, Father this morning surprised me. When he said something to the effect of; When we read this it seems overwhelming. How can it be possible for us to do? I sat up straight. He caught my attention. Exactly what I’ve thought for decades!
He continued by pointing out this is not impossible for God’s Love. I fumbled in my purse for a pen and began taking notes on the front of the bulletin. Writing is the best way for me to remember. So I wrote notes all over the picture and in the margins of my bulletin.
As Father taught he pointed out; love starts with God. He loved us first. Love is not what we feel. Love takes action. We may not like the person but we can love the person as God loves us.
Father gave us a tip: When you think of the people you don’t like – Pray for them at that moment. My take on this is: This is love in action. Then I heard in the homily: “Prayer opens God’s Grace to that person.”
I asked myself, what better gift to give someone than God’s Grace? There isn’t one. I wonder how much better our world would be if we stopped to pray for our neighbors whether we like them or not; whether we agree with someone or not; or how about whether we know the person or not. My musing took me to I Thessalonians 5:17. I would definitely be praying without ceasing!
Father ended with something he’d heard from a wise woman, she said:
“Wash what is dirty,
Water what is dry,
Heal what is wounded,
Warm what is cold,
Guide what goes off the road,
Love the people who are the least lovable because they need it the most.”
As Mr. Rogers might say: Hello Neighbor, You are loved,
1 Mark 12:28-34 [Lectionary for Mass]